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The Oracle | Bell's Brewery, Inc.

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The OracleThe Oracle

Brewed by:
Bell's Brewery, Inc.
Michigan, United States

Style: American Double / Imperial IPA

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 10.00%

Availability: Summer

Notes / Commercial Description:
Our take on the West Coast-style Double India Pale Ale, The Oracle places hop intensity first and foremost, making only the slightest concession to malt and balance.

The fireworks start with the aromatic punch of dry-hop sessions with hop varieties from the Pacific Northwest. Resinous, citrusy hop flavors mixed with aggressive bitterness from a massive kettle addition deliver on that aromatic promise.

Added by BeerAdvocate on 09-04-2009

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Reviews: 778 | Ratings: 2,679
Photo of CHickman
4.18/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Pours cloudy dark gold color which makes it look almost copper colored, with a 2 finger foamy white head that was full of big bubbles that stuck to the glass and didn't budge for a few minutes, dissipating very slowly and leaving excellent foamy lacing coating the sides and rings as it went down.

Smells of pineapple, orange peel, tangerine, fresh citrus hops, tropical fruit, graham cracker, toasted grains, pepper, coriander and other peppery spices, piney hops/pine cone, fresh cut grass, lemon zest and sweetness like brown sugar or burnt French toast. Very hoppy with that dry hopped impression to me.

Tastes like it smells with strong citrus notes and a caramel/toffee sweetness up front that settles in with grapefruit, orange peel, tangerine, fresh wet citrus hops, tropical fruit, pineapple, mango, tobacco, and a bunch of spices such as white pepper, coriander, brown sugar and cinnamon. The next wave is all malt with buttery biscuit, Ritz crackers, graham cracker, toasted grains, wheat, fresh cut grass, piney hops and light earthy notes. Wonderfully complex with hints of booze peeking through, this was balanced and went down easier than it should have.

Mouthfeel is creamy and almost slick with a medium body, average to light carbonation, lots of bready, wheat notes and then a wave of hoppy sweetness which is slightly bitter, lightly spiced and on the dry side as the hoppy sweetness kicks in one last time before trailing off grainy with a lingering earthy flavor (like dry leaves for lack of a better description).

Overall a very enjoyable beer that is sturdy and almost macho in it's balance. The big malt base props this up and allows the grains to take center stage in some sips, allowing this hoppy DIPA to come off big and yet somewhat easy to drink.

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Photo of seedyone
3.97/5  rDev -4.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

On tap at Rattle n Hum, NYC. Meh! As a non-believer in the Church of the IPA, my skepticism remains intact. Looking to this cocoction as a redeemer due to the ABV (10.4%) I thought I'd found a kindered spirit. But alas, 'twas not to be.

Just another jacked up charlatan. Another "medicine show".

Sure, there's something there...but it all seems so forced. Thr term "beating a dead horse"...as poitically incorrect as it is in any context, is all I've got. THAT'S how desperate I feel.

What is this? Who think's it's grand? How am I?

I'm sure there are proponents & they have their due, but...as a big admirer of Bells's other edeavores, this escapes me.

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Photo of rand
2.8/5  rDev -32.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.75 | overall: 2.75

12 oz bottle to tulip glass

Gorgeous copper-tan appearance, a big fluffy head never fully recedes and completely coats the glass with lacing.

Big, bold, sharp aromas. Notes of ripe citrus, orange rind and pine resin up against a giant malt backbone - sugary and grainy. All ushered by ample alcohol volatiles.

Aggressively hop-forward on the palate. Sharp, bitter, rough. After an onslaught of astringent hops, treacly malt syrup rolls in upon a vain attempt to balance. Lots of earthy tea-like residuals linger, along with hot booze. Finishes with a long close, and a coating of bitter residual between sips. The brew is a chore to drink.

A West Coast IPA this is not. Not even close. This is a hoppy barleywine, and not very good one at that. This confirms my suspicion of East Coast bias (or east of the West Coast bias) on this site - this beer has higher scores than a lot of local IPA's that blow this out of the water on every level.

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Photo of mchegash
3.87/5  rDev -7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

L: A golden-orange appearance, fairly clear with a tad bit of haze. Lots of visible carbonation bubbles rising up the beer. A nice 2/3 finger of head which seems to stay around for a while.

S: Pine resin aromas, a bit of fruit.

T: Major pine and resin hops dominate. Hints of fruit, maybe of the tropical variety.

F: Lots of carbonation, fairly high level of bitterness. Fairly full bodied.

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Photo of Pray_For_Mojo
4.13/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Appearance: a nice hazy golden, with a light tan head of fine silky bubbles.

Aroma: sweet malt, light. Aroma indicates this will be a sweet(er) beer.

Flavor: sweet malt upfront, which leans toward the sweet side, but the hops just keep sticking around to balance it, and finish spicy and dry. The alcohol is well hidden . No alcohol flavor or heat.

Mouthfeel: medium, nearly spot on. You could easily put back more than one.

Overall: a tale of two beers: the initial flavor is a malt-heavy mess, but the 2nd act is a hop forward and spicy west coast IPA. I compared this beer side by side to Sixpoint Puff. Bells' is much better.

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Photo of NolaHopHead
4.27/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

12 oz bottle. Pours hazy orange with finger white head, good retention and coating lace. Candy-like malt aroma. Big bold flavors colliding here, sweet sugary pale and caramel malts met by massive piney reding hops, with grassy floral notes lasting well beyond the sip. The bitterness definitely wins out, wow this is bitter, but I like it. Medium soft feel, dry finish. Big bitter sipper.

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Photo of remingtonsteele1987
4.38/5  rDev +5.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

Poured half the 12oz into a snifter. Pretty, rich copper color and slightly opaque appearance with the smoothest, two finger, roasted almond color head. Had a sweet, doughy and roasted orange rind aroma with loads of burnt caramel and vanilla. It had a smooth and creamy texture with sweet orange, vanilla and spice flavors. Very well balanced sweet and bitter flavors that will linger nicely.

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Photo of mntlover
4.03/5  rDev -3.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 3.75

Pours a lightly murky hazy golden orange mixture sporting a nice fluffy two finger cream colored head. Loads of lace left down my glass, nice looking brew.

Aroma is nice sweet tropical fruits, pineapple, mango, light grapefruit rounded out by pine hints. All this hop goodness floating on a caramel malt base just underneath it all adding to the tropical sweet goodness.

Taste is not quite like the nose not as tropical nor as inviting. caramel malt base biting bitter grapefruit, a touch of orange sweetness. Finish is just lingering grapefruit citrus bitterness mixed with some big grassy notes and hints of pine resin. The more I drink the more I wish it was sweeter then bitter like the nose. I know its a I2PA but was expecting more fruitiness.

Mouthfeel is big medium fairly mellow carbonation with a burst at the end.

Overall wonderful nose might of messed with my taste as lots of I2PA's are just hop bombs. But sadly don't see me purchasing this one again unless its just to sniff it.

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Photo of OldManMetal
3.48/5  rDev -16.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 2.75 | overall: 2.75

This is a great-looking beer: a giant, pebbly ivory-colored head looms atop a clear, effervescent, deep-gold beer, leaving excellent lacing in the form of thick, sticky bands and sheets; the only visual downside is how rapidly the head dissipates. The nose is delicious and enticing; medium in intensity, it leads with pineapple juice, backed by ruby grapefruit and sweet florals, hints of darker florals and modest alcohol overtones. Up front, the palate is grassy, medium-bitter pineapple and more subtle cotton-candy florals; mid-palate the pineapple gets juicy, the grassiness becomes more pronounced, a spicy floral flavor emerges, and we get a good view of the bready malt foundation. At the same time, a too-astringent mouthfeel develops, and a darkish bitter/sweet solvent character defiles the low end of the flavor as the booze does its damndest to run the whole train off the tracks. The finish is a warming whallop of bittersweet booze, followed by the onset of a modest, boozy pine bitterness that lasts for awhile. Mouthfeel is commensurate with the medium body, and is unpleasantly astringent; the texture is medium-creamy and slightly peppery from the somewhat restrained carbonation. Too hot to be enjoyable. (12 oz bottle, 42 days after pkg)

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Photo of Traveler19808
4.34/5  rDev +4.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Pours with a nice head, medium head, good lacing, slightly foggy gold to copper body. Strong but smooth hops on the nose with citrus and grape. Fantastic taste on the front smooth pronounced citrus, malty and hop bitter on the back.
Very enjoyable beer and impressively balanced for a big 10% beer, drinks better than most standard IPAs.

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Photo of Hyptochrons
4.36/5  rDev +4.8%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

golden orange appearance, dense white head. good retention and lacing. floral aromas as well as grass, pine, caramel. palate is orange, grapefruit, spicy floral note, caramel malts, pine. solid feel.

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Photo of Mongrel
4.28/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Big rice and honey up front, and then some apple and grapey vinous notes give way to your more typical hoppy bitterness. Love the big honey-sweet center that's more than offset by a boatload of resinous hops. Finishes really impressively dry, with lingering bitterness and an enticing herbaciousness.

Smells like honey, grape, lavender and pine sap. The whole beer reminds me a lot of Hoptimum, maybe even a little more unique and nuanced. Stellar stuff.

P.S. - as I look through the other recent reviews, I realize this brew is for old-school hop heads who like aggressive, piney, resinous, tongue-coating BITTERNESS. Not so much for late-comers whose ideal IPA is a zero IBU fruit juice smoothie.

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Photo of vette2006c5r
3.86/5  rDev -7.2%
look: 5 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

The Oracle pours a copper color with a huge lacing head. Very earthy and malty aroma. Taste is very big, lots of earthy hops, with a big sweeter malt backbone. Good body and feel. Overall, very big bold beer.

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Photo of 57md
3.79/5  rDev -8.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 3.75

Pours a light copper color with just under a finger of head. The nose and flavor have a solid balance of malt and hops. The flavor also carries a slight sweetness upfront and a bit too obtrusive alcohol presence on the finish.

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Photo of Dragginballs76
4.09/5  rDev -1.7%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours - Clear golden color with very nice white head great lacing.

Smell - Sweet malts, grapefruit and orange peel, little but of floral smell and some spice.

Taste - First off where in the world is the alcohol, you cannot taste it. Grapefruit, citrus, slightly sweet. little bit of caramel as well. Slight bitterness on the back end.

Feel - Medium body, great carbonation just a hint of warmth from the alcohol.

Overall - An excellent DIPA, I love the citrus flavor and the bitterness is well balanced.

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Photo of Sabtos
2.71/5  rDev -34.9%
look: 3.25 | smell: 2.75 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.75

Light copper with a thin khaki ring.

Aromas of pungent, almost catty hops, with hot grapefruit pith, and a grainy malt background.

Taste is real hot and spicy hops and booze, yet softened by frothy grapefruit rind and zest, and pine.

Devil Dancer light, if that's anywhere remotely possible as a thing.

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Photo of delta490
3.96/5  rDev -4.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A deep orange with a golden tint, it has a thick cap of foamy white head with great retention. It has mostly soapy lacing. The aroma is light but still packs in some nice citrus and pine hops with a little malt sweetness. The taste is a little more emphatic and offers the same as the aroma. It is medium bodied, with a little carbonation and just a little dry on the finish.

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Photo of ThisWangsChung
3.21/5  rDev -22.8%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.25

Pours a slightly murky copper color. The head is a finger high, and off-white in shade. Retention is excellent, and the head manages to leave behind thick webs of lacing.

Compared to a lot of new-school DIPAs running around these days, this beer's aroma is classically old-school. A hefty backbone of caramel, brown sugar, and toffee is not only backed by an assertive pine bitterness, but also by some fruity ale esters and a touch of alcohol. It's a throwback, but is that bad? Everything seems to come together nicely, and that's what counts.

Tasting it, the malt comes across heavily like a barleywine - as does the finishing bitterness. It starts with plenty of crystal malts, meaning lots of caramel and toffee appears. Piny, grassy hops slowly build near the back end. Quite a bit of alcohol comes through at first. For better or worse, it's a textbook old-school DIPA - it isn't as delicately balanced as the nose suggested, either.

Despite the fairly full, heavy feel, it finishes quite dry. There is a mild burn, however. Nonetheless, the drinkability is surprisingly good for 10% (aided by gently rolling carbonation)

Hrm. I definitely don't think it's worth it's exorbitant price or mild rarity, but it's a fine DIPA taken in a vacuum. However, there are many superior examples of the style available locally (to me), and that makes this hard to return to at the end of the day.

3.21/5: I've heard your wisdom plenty of times before, Mr. Oracle

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Photo of FBarber
3.92/5  rDev -5.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Pours an opaque orange color. Soapy white head dissipates very slowly leaving sticky lacing and a slowly thinning residual head.

Smell is very herbal and grassy - almost smells like a wet greenhouse. Hints of citrus are noted.

Taste is very grassy, lots of bitter wet vegetation flavors. I believe the common term to describe this would be "dank". Very prominent malt backbone gives it a caramel like flavor along with a bready backbone. Very bitter finish with a lingering bitterness. Its certainly a dank hop bomb - and if thats your thing, you'll love this. If not, you'll hate it. Also isn't all that balanced - but I suspect they were going for a hop bomb.

Feel is actually pretty light for a DIPA. Easily drinkable. Mild carbonation - bit less than I would have liked.

Overall a nice DIPA from Bells. Not sure I think its as good as the ratings here would suggest, but its a solid beer. If you like dank bitter hoppy IPAs then you'll probably like this one.

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Photo of Jimmys
3.36/5  rDev -19.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

12 oz bottle with a 07/26/16 date on the back label. I hope this is a bottled on.

pours very hazy with an impressive off-white head. aroma is very hoppy, but nothing super distinctive. flavor is largely pine and resin driven with a lot of alcohol to boot. if I had to guess this is just a larger version of Two Hearted without the tact, but that is a shot in the dark.
overall, this isn't worth the steep pricetag when these guys are making the aforementioned Two Hearted and their hop beast, Hopslam. I'm a bit letdown, but glad I tried.

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Photo of Karnivool1
3.26/5  rDev -21.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 2.75 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Don't get the hype on this one. I don't find much balance on this one at all. Just a boozy hop bomb. Lingering bitterness at the end. It smells great, and looks good, but an overload of pine and grapefruit. Glad I got a single bottle only.

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Photo of Joe_Palooka
4.56/5  rDev +9.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

This is not the beer for the average beer drinker nor was it brewed for him. This is indeed a hop bomb but a very pleasant hop bomb. It has a beautiful amber/copper color with plenty of carbonation as bubbles just steam from the bottom on my snifter. I think it is pretty balanced but my favorite beers start at 100 ibu's. There is a resinous pine taste and the 10% abv is smooth. The mouth feel to me is very pleasant and the smell opens up the sinuses in a good way.. I bought three sixes of this beer and I will be very sorry when it is gone. Thank you Larry Bell for another great beer! I have experienced my 6th bottle of this fine beer and anyone who would call this a dank beer simply does not know how to taste beer. This beer is one of the absolute best double ipa's I have had in a long long time.

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Photo of rypkr
4.06/5  rDev -2.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.75

Starts juicy and explosive but finishes oh so bitter an offensively sappy and spicy pine resin stuck to all four sides of your tongue. I'll pass on buying this again, it's far too bipolar for my taste.

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Photo of ajm5108
2.91/5  rDev -30%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 2 | feel: 4 | overall: 2.25

Not much head / carbonation on the pour. Aroma has lots of floral & citrus hops, with a little dry Mosaic undernote. This one is a bit too aggressive for me, there isn't any balance of flavors, just an overload of grapefruit / pine resin, with a piquant stab of fusel alchohol on the end. As IPAs have evolved over the past couple of years plenty of beers have shown there graceful ways to present that classic hop bitterness without assaulting the drinker. This beer has all the grace of an elephant on ice skates. If one-note "hop bombs" are your thing, drink away, but this one is a pass for me.

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Photo of 11-52_4hops
3.79/5  rDev -8.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Hazy golden honey color, nice lacing. Light nose includes hints of honey, caramel, and malts. Heavy body taste, quite malty with strong bitter hop finish, and some alcohol. A hint of honey in there as well that reminds me a bit of Hopslam (but in my opinion not even close to Slam overall). Bitterness lingers in the back of the mouth for a long time. This isn't a bad beer by any means, but it just seems unremarkable to me for a limited release (and the accompanying per bottle price). Could be that a more pronounced malt taste just isn't my thing.

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The Oracle from Bell's Brewery, Inc.
4.16 out of 5 based on 2,679 ratings.
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